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Lawyer Says Parnas Would Testify About Numerous Trump Officials

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The attorney for Giuliani henchman Lev Parnas says his client is prepared to name top Trump administration officials, including the president, vice president, and the attorney general as co-conspirators in an extortion scheme.

“If Lev Parnas was called as a witness, he would provide testimony based upon personal knowledge, corroborated by physical evidence,” the three-page letter reportedly says, “directly relevant to the President’s impeachment inquiry.”

The letter is addressed to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Among those Parnas is prepared to name are President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Bill Barr, former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, and the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Also, journalist John Solomon, a Nunes staffer, and the husband-wife legal team of Victoria Toensing and Joe di Genova.

Below is the letter from Parnas’ attorney, Joseph Bondy:

High Winds Blow Down Border Wall In California

A section of the border wall in southern California was blown over by high winds on Wednesday, causing the structure to fall into Mexico, CNN reported.

Mexican officials were forced to divert traffic from the area.

In an email Thursday, Ralph DeSio, a Customs and Border Protection official, said high winds “impacted a handful of panels,” adding that there were no injuries or property damage.

DeSio said that the 30-foot high wall tipped into Mexico while the concrete holding the wall in place was still drying, confirming CNN’s report. DeSio called the incident “an uncommon event,” noting winds reached speeds well over 30 miles per hour on Wednesday.

DeSio also confirmed that the construction company SLSCO Ltd was under contract for that particular section of the border wall.

In a June 2019 press release, CPB said SLSCO had been awarded an $88 million contract to replace an 11-mile section of dilapidated border wall in Calexico. According to a 2019 Forbes report, SLSCO has received contracts for border wall projects totaling almost half a billion dollars since Trump took office.

A Texas-based company, SLSCO was founded by three brothers, John, Billy, and Todd Sullivan. According to MarketWatch, the brothers donated a total of $68,000 to Republican groups or candidates in the 2018 election cycle. The only donation to a Democrat came from Johnny, who gave $2,700 to Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

In an email, SLSCO did not provide any comment about the Calexico incident, instead referring all media inquiries to CBP.

In addition to Calexico, Forbes reported that SLSCO’s other border wall projects include several controversial stretches along the Texas-Mexico border.

In one spot, the SLSCO’s construction will reportedly run straight through the National Butterfly Center, a private nature preserve. The center’s executive director, Marianna Wright, told Forbes that “big monarchs can soar over the wall to fulfill their migration instincts” but “some species like the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly … prefer to flit closer to the ground and will not be able to get over the wall.”

The Catholic Church in Hidalgo County is also upset that the border wall will cut off access to La Lomita Chapel, a small historic structure dating back to 1865 when it was built by French missionaries.

Building a border wall was one of Trump’s signature campaign promises during the 2016 election. At the time, he promised Mexico would pay for it. But when the Mexican government refused to do so, and Congress refused to provide $5 billion in taxpayer funds to do so, Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border.

He then reallocated $3.6 billion meant for the military, such as school buildings for children of active service members, to fund additional sections of the wall.

According to CBP, the Calexico border wall that was blown over was funded using 2018 appropriations, not funding from Trump’s emergency declaration.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

GOP Senators Propose ‘Classified’ Look At Bolton Book

As pressure mounts to have former national security adviser John Bolton testify in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, a pair of Republican senators is proposing an idea to stall and possibly block Bolton from speaking publicly about his knowledge of the Ukraine scandal.

In The Room Where It Happened, his forthcoming memoir about his time in the Trump White House, Bolton says Trump told him that he was withholding congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine until the country’s leadership announced an investigation into his political rivals. That is exactly what Democrats charge Trump with doing, calling that quid pro quo an abuse of power.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and James Lankford (R-OK) suggested a deal that would allow senators to review Bolton’s book in a classified setting before deciding on whether to have him testify.

Lankford was the first to suggest allowing senators to review Bolton’s book manuscript in a classified setting to determine whether he should be called as a witness. (Bolton submitted his book to the National Security Council for classification review ahead of the book’s scheduled March 17 public release date.)

“That’s a minimum amount that we should actually be able to get and I am encouraging the White House, anybody that I can talk to to say: That manuscript is pertinent and we should get access to that manuscript to see what they’re actually saying,” Lankford told The Oklahoman on Monday.

Graham tweeted on Tuesday morning that he backs Lankford’s proposal.

“I totally support @SenatorLankford’s proposal that the Bolton manuscript be made available to the Senate, if possible, in a classified setting where each Senator has the opportunity to review the manuscript and make their own determination,” Graham tweeted.

Democrats have been seeking Bolton’s testimony for months. House Democrats called on Bolton to testify in the House impeachment inquiry last October, but Bolton refused to show up.

However, after Democrats passed articles of impeachment against Trump in December, Bolton appeared to have a change of heart and said he would testify if the Senate subpoenaed him during the trial.

Senate Democrats then attempted to secure Bolton’s testimony earlier in January, before the Senate passed the rules governing the impeachment trial, but every Republican senator voted to block Bolton’s testimony.

Following Monday’s leak of Bolton’s book, in which he discusses Trump’s quid pro quo with Ukraine, calls for Republicans to allow Bolton to testify have heightened.

Despite those allegations, many high-ranking Republicans still say Bolton’s firsthand account isn’t relevant and doesn’t change their plan to block witnesses and quickly acquit Trump before the Feb. 4 State of the Union.

So far, only one Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), said he believes Bolton should testify. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said that she is “likely to vote to call witnesses,” but she hasn’t said definitively that she plans to vote for Bolton’s testimony.

Democrats ultimately need four GOP votes to call Bolton to the witness stand.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Trump Will Exclude Democrats From Trade Deal Signing Ceremony

Donald Trump plans to host a bill signing ceremony today for the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, the renegotiated North American free trade agreement, which passed earlier in January.

However, despite the fact that many House Democrats — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — were essential to passing the deal, they will not be at the bill signing ceremony, because Trump refused to invite them, Politico reported.

So the president will take a victory lap on the trade agreement — but not alongside Democratic lawmakers who worked on provisions for the bill that helped it soar to passage.

“It’s a little petty of him,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) told Politico. “Actually, there were more Democrats who voted in favor than Republicans in the House side.”

Cuellar is right.

The House passed the USMCA on Dec. 19 with 193 votes from Democrats and 192 from Republicans.

Democrats spent months amending the trade agreement, adding provisions to ensure fair labor standards to prevent companies from outsourcing some jobs to Mexico. House Democrats also removed a provision they said would increase drug costs.

The snub comes as Trump fumes about impeachment. Currently, Trump’s defense team is making the case for why Trump shouldn’t be removed from office — making illogical arguments and focusing on debunked conspiracy theories in the process.

Ultimately, Trump wants to take credit for the trade deal in order to boost his reelection chances in November. And inviting Democrats to the signing ceremony to recognize their contributions to the trade agreement does not stick to his attack-Democrats-at-all-costs strategy.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.